After operating a small salon in the basement of his home for six years, Joseph Anthony Gaglioti relocated the business to Glen Mills, PA, in 1986, where it continued to grow and thrive. In 1994, his son, Joseph Gaglioti, Jr., joined the business, and together, they added various spa treatments to the range of services. Eventually, the two decided to expand with a piece of land they had bought and left untouched for some 15 years. Unfortunately, their plans to build a state-of-the-art spa and salon coincided with the recession. With construction completed in the summer of 2007, the father-son duo found themselves in a precarious state when the bank called in their loan and left them without a line of credit. It didn’t help that they had begun building the spa during the height of the construction boom when prices were through the roof. Needing to open and turn a profit immediately, the two plunged ahead. Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon, complete with a rasul, a halotherapy room, alpine hay steam chambers, and more, now employs 100 staff members and earns approximately $6 million annually. Here, Gaglioti, Jr., shares how he and his father beat the odds and made their new location a success despite the troubled economy.
How have you continued to succeed in these trying times?
A. Customer service, customer service, and more customer service. Clients have so many choices, and everyone is discounting their services. We need to be different in these times. Our staff is required to send handwritten thank you notes, and they are encouraged to make follow-up calls when they have serviced a new client or performed an aggressive service on an existing client just to see how they are feeling. Our staff realizes how important it is to create a great customer service experience.
Why do you think the spa has been able to succeed where others have failed?
A. Again, I attribute it to customer service and our culture. We strive to create different types of services and always try to make our guests leave here feeling like a million bucks. The events we offer have also helped us succeed. Our Christmas in July and our Black Friday and Saturday events are some of our most successful days. We sell gift cards on those days for a 20 percent added value. We sell about 10 percent of our year’s total gift card sales during those days. Our events center around certain services and events. Manicures, Martinis, and Makeup is big, as are our bespoke packages, which highlight certain spa services.
How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?
A. It feels like we have done everything to get new clients. Going to events, being involved in the community, and joining business development groups are a few of the ways. Our staff is incredible in donating their time to different events, which is a huge reason we are able to get new clients. Our staff will volunteer for photo shoots, do hair and makeup for children in local hospitals, and network in the community.
How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business?
A. We do a lot with local radio and television stations. We will perform chair massages on air or donate our time to different sponsored events. We try to get local TV and radio personalities into our facility, so they can experience it for themselves. After that, it seems they want to write or talk about us. With social media, we highlight promos we are offering.
What steps and cost-cutting measures did you employ to offset the recession?
A. Besides cutting my pay and my father’s, we really tried to get the most out of our staff with a working-smarter-not-harder approach. Getting our staff to realize how difficult it is out there encourages them to make sure that every client is taken care of. Also, we worked very close with our distributor, DePasquale Salon Systems. Working with a distributor that shares our same values gave us better buying power and a business partner to discuss challenges and successes.
Did you change your menu of offerings? If so, what effect did that have on the business?
A. Since 2007, we have changed our menu three times, and we are launching our fourth in the spring. We added, removed, and combined treatments. We try to engage our clients and ask for feedback, so a lot of the suggestions came directly from them.
Have you had to let any employees go? If not, how were you able to manage this?
A. We were in a bit of a different situation, because when we opened our new facility, the banking recession had just hit, but we were going from a 3,000-square-foot facility to a 23,000-square-foot facility and had to staff it. In the past few years, we’ve really tried to watch the number of hours and spread out when our staff is working.
What have you learned from surviving the recent recession, and how do you plan to incorporate those lessons in the future?
A. We have learned to really pay attention to who you vote for and to what is going on locally and nationally. We also learned that however bad a recession is, if you stay focused on what you believe, treat people the way you want to be treated, and remember that the client is always right, at the end of the day, you’ll know that you gave 100 percent, and you will not fail.